Eagles Soar Youth Activity Center or ESYAC is a wonderful ministry to children living in motels around Redding. Recently, Redding First Church of the Nazarene entered into partnership with them, offering our campus for their ministry. Our children’s pastor, Beau Chambers has led this effort and has in a very real sense, become the pastor for these kids.
These is truly a street level ministry to kids who are often living in desperate conditions. Through the ministry to the kids, families are also being reached. Below is the story of ESYAC from their website .
In December 2003 the Record Searchlight devoted a section covering the life of a seven year old girl who lived with her family in a single room motel in downtown Redding. God used her story to touch Joanie Griffin’s heart, founder of ESYAC, and to move her into realizing a desire she had for many years—to see the establishment of on-site ministries where at-risk children and their families could receive the support to succeed and the opportunity to believe.
The dream was to see a “Motel Ministry” in which the churches of Redding would reach out to the poor of Redding through the establishment of on-site centers located in motel rooms. There are 7 motels throughout Redding where families who are homeless raise their children. There are no parks within walking distance of these motels and children have only the parking lot to play in. Parents who struggle with substance abuse, transience, and unemployment limit their ability to be involved in their children’s education and to provide enriching life experiences. The dream is for these 7 sites to become centers of support where volunteer staff would befriend the parents and provide key elements the children need to succeed–tutoring, mentoring, and adventuring. These volunteers would also serve as liaisons between home and school, helping the families and teachers connect with one another.
In the spring of 2005 God opened the way for this dream to be realized. Mosaic Ministries, a non-profit started by All Saints Episcopal Church and St. James Lutheran Church, welcomed ESYAC into their organization. We joined them as partners in fulfilling their mission–“Following Jesus outside the walls”. Eagles Soar Youth Activity Center (ESYAC) was established. Within a month of being a non-profit we received our first donation —an unsolicited $5,000 to cover our insurance from an anonymous donor.
In addition to Mosaic, two other organizations were key to the birthing of this ministry—Aglow International and Bethel Church. Aglow intercessors prayed for breakthroughs in many instances–from favor with the owner who granted us rooms to use rent free to the rescue of children in crisis. Bethel Church ushered us into relationships with the people. Their volunteers, who have been serving hot lunch at several sites around the city for 7 years, had built bonds of trust and respect with the residents at the California Apartments. They trained us and with their endorsement, we were accepted by the residents and able to start this ministry.
A multi- church team and Simpson University students now carry on this ministry. Over 70 people from all walks of life and several local businesses have given their time, talent and money to be used by God to make a difference in the lives of those caught in the cycle of poverty.
We have been serving the families at the California Apartments and Capri Motel for five years now. Under the leadership of Patti Brent, our Homework Club runs each Tuesday and Thursday afternoon, serving up to 20 kids through a volunteer team who range in age from 14 to 75. Families receive a food delivery twice a month from local churches. 13 teens have been connected with mentors through “Project 18”. A community garden is growing in the empty lot in front of the Capri Motel. The teachers of “our kids” at Sycamore, Cypress, Bonnie View, Juniper know there is someone they can contact to help. Parents get rides from our team members so that they can attend teacher conferences and school plays. In the summer time kids get to leave the motel and head out for adventures–kayaking, berry picking, fishing, gold panning, spelunking, swimming, etc!
This ministry aims to express the heart of God. Jesus came to our world and dwelt among us. He said, “Peace be with you; as Thou didst send Me into the world I also have sent them (us) into the world.” (John 17:18) This ministry seeks to embody Jesus’ love by joining with these families where they live, offering them the support to succeed and the opportunity to believe through programs of tutoring, mentoring, and adventuring.
Does your heart see another location where Jesus is looking for people to establish a ministry among at-risk kids and their families? We would love to help you discover what God has in mind. E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org